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Wildcats strike early, grind late to down Vikings

Las Vegas High’s football team will spend plenty of time breaking down film from the second half Saturday.

But the Wildcats will gladly take a 31-16 win at Northeast League rival Valley to stay undefeated.

“Winning ugly is better than not winning at all,” Las Vegas coach James Thurman said. “But we’ve got room to improve. We’re excited to be 3-0 in the Northeast, but we’ve got to get better. That was not our best effort, and we’ll fix it.

“Too many penalties. I’ll take the blame for that.”

The fourth-ranked Wildcats (5-0, 3-0) scored touchdowns on four of their first five possessions to build a 31-0 halftime lead. But Las Vegas was held scoreless in the second half and committed 10 penalties for 88 yards in the game.

“It’s a good win, but an ugly win,” Las Vegas quarterback Hasaan Henderson said. “We need to step it up in practice this week.”

Henderson shook off an early interception to throw first-half TD passes of 22 and 18 yards to running back Farrell Victor and 22 yards to receiver Andrew Moreland.

“We make sure to tell our line, if we get Farrell into open space, good things can happen,” Henderson said. “He can make a big play out of nothing.”

Henderson finished 12-for-18 for 136 yards and three TDs. The senior also ran for 103 yards on nine carries.

Victor also ran for a 3-yard TD in the first quarter for the Wildcats.

Moreland had 37 yards rushing and 45 receiving for Las Vegas, and Joshua Mayfield caught three passes for 52 yards.

Thurman said the Wildcats “flipped a switch” they didn’t want to flip in the second half, as Valley scored two TDs in the final 11 minutes to narrow the margin.

“In the first half, we didn’t hold, we didn’t get penalties. We executed,” Thurman said. “The kids played well, and I don’t know what happened. It’s frustrating when we don’t finish the game. That’s not Vegas football.”

Valley (2-3, 2-1) found the end zone in the fourth quarter on a 54-yard run down the right sideline by Bryon Peeples and an 8-yard quarterback keeper by Anthony Sanders.

Peeples ran for 106 yards on three carries, all in the second half, and Dillard Davis rushed 15 times for 65 yards for the Vikings.

Valley’s Kennedy Williams contributed 50 yards on eight carries and caught three passes for 53 yards.

“We decided to go to shotgun a little bit and give (Sanders) more time,” Valley coach Marcus Sherman said of the second half. “Defensively, we started sending our linebackers. We were a little passive in the first half, but putting more in the box helped us.”

Though he wasn’t happy with the 31-0 halftime hole, Sherman said the Vikings can take positives out of the second half.

“The goal is to have a home playoff game, and that goal is still intact,” he said.

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